PREP FOOTBALL PREVIEWS: Bulldogs looking for some homecoming magic; Royals, Lakers hope to build off strong performances

It’s crunch time around the area when it comes to prep football. With five games already in the books, it’s time for area teams to gear up for the final stretch of the regular season.

The Mayer Lutheran Crusaders are coming off their first loss of the season this week. After losing to United South Central in a Class A Top-10 showdown last week, it will be interesting to see how the young Crusaders bounce back this week as they hit the road once again.

Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity finds themselves on a three-game losing streak and will try to right the ship this week. The Bulldogs host Waterville-Elysian-Morristown this week, and will be looking to pick up a homecoming win.

Watertown-Mayer and Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted are both coming off their best performances of the season. While the Lakers and Royals still have zero wins combined, both are starting to put things together to gear up for a postseason run.

Both W-M and HLWW have tough tasks ahead of them in Week 6. The Royals will take on the No. 4 ranked team in Class AAA in Annandale, while the Lakers get the No. 1-ranked team in Class AAA. While a win is unlikely for both squads, it’s important for both to keep grinding and working on the little things to put themselves in a spot to compete come section time.

Below is an in-depth preview for all four games featuring area teams.

HLWW at Pierz

The Lakers are arguably coming off their best two performances of the season. In Week 4, HLWW held Rockford to just 15 points in a tough loss. They followed that up with a nice offensive showing in a 40-24 loss to Spectrum last week.

A tall task awaits the Lakers this Friday night as they take on the Pierz Pioneers. The Pioneers are one of the top teams in the Mid State Sub 1 District, as well as Class AAA.

HLWW will be looking to combine a solid showing on both offense and defense this week against the Pioneers. It’s been one or the other the past two games for the Lakers, and if they want to get ready for the postseason, playing well against a talented Pierz team would help.

HLWW also must cut down on their turnovers. That’s been the difference in HLWW’s last two losses as they’ve turned it over four times in the past two games.

Take care of the ball and see what happens against one of the best teams in the state will be the objective for the Lakers. If they can stay healthy and keep improving, they’ll look to make a run in the Section 4AA tournament.

W-E-M at LP/HT

The LP/HT Bulldogs will be eager to get out on the field again this Friday night in their matchup against W-E-M. Not only will it be homecoming, but they’ll also be looking to snap a three-game losing streak, including letting one slip away last week.

LP/HT had multiple chances to put up points last week against Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton, but were shutout for the first time this season. If the Bulldogs want to snap their three-game skid, they’ll need to take advantage of opportunities.

Two ways the Bulldogs can get back into the win column are wining the turnover battle and getting the passing game going. LP/HT turned it over once last week against J-W-P and were unable to force a turnover of their own. Being able to get a takeaway would give LP/HT an extra possession and some momentum against a good W-E-M team.

The Bulldogs will also need to get the passing game going. LP/HT’s running game has been solid all year long, but they will need to get the passing game going to sustain drives this week.  They had just 26 yards passing last week against J-W-P. Getting the passing game going may help the Bulldogs get better on 3rd down, as they were just 4-of-11 last week.

Watertown-Mayer at Annandale Cardinals

Watertown-Mayer had chances to pull off their first win in nearly three years last week. They just couldn’t get the stop or key play they needed.

Still, it was a step in the right direction for a program that’s had its struggles. This week will be another tough task for the Royals as they travel to Annandale for a matchup with the Cardinals.

Annandale is a perfect 5-0 on the season, and have been a tough out for any team this season. They’ve won all five games by 14 or more points, and look to be one of the top teams in East Central South District.

Last week, the Royals got the passing game going in a big way. Ansen Dulas threw for over 300 yards, which was a season-high for him by far. If the Royals want to hang with a high-powered Annandale team, W-M will need to have the passing game working again.

Mayer Lutheran at St. Clair/Loyola

There’s no doubt it was a disappointing loss for the Crusaders in Week 5 against United South Central. Even with that, there’s no time for the Crusaders to dwell on it as they hit the road for another district matchup, this time with the St. Clair/Loyola Cyclones.

Mayer Lutheran let one get away from them last week in the second half due to mental mistakes. They gave up two touchdowns of 30 yards or more, and a pick-six. The Crusaders have been the team making big plays all season long, so it was a change of pace to see a team do that to them.

The Crusaders, a young team still learning and gaining experience, will have to bounce back. A 3-2 Cyclones team awaits them this week, and they have to be feeling good about themselves coming off a 42-7 win over Alden-Conger last week.

Mayer Lutheran standout running back Zander Flucas was limited in practice all of last week before returning in time to play against USC. With a full week of practice this week, look for Flucas to have a big impact on the outcome of this matchup.

Sophomore quarterback Ty Hoese also had his first rough game of his career last week. Getting his confidence back and another win would bode well for the Crusaders heading into the final two weeks of the regular season, and the postseason.


Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter.

Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports 

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